How to access and understand the Performance Benchmarking report

This article explains how to access the Performance Benchmarking report in order to see an overview of your business’s performance and how it compares to similar businesses provided you have chosen to opt in and share your data. It also explains how to update your report settings.

The Performance Benchmarking report provides a visual overview of your business’s financial performance over time.

Please note that in order to ensure there’s enough data to provide a meaningful comparison, the Performance Benchmarking report is only available to companies in the UK that have used FreeAgent for at least six months. You’ll need level 7 access or above to your FreeAgent account to access this report.

Accessing the Performance Benchmarking report

Navigate to the ‘Accounting’ tab at the top of the screen and select ‘Reports’ from the drop-down menu.

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Select ‘Performance Benchmarking’ from the ‘High Level’ section.

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Selecting your Performance Benchmark settings

Business category and location

First, choose the category that is most relevant for your business from the ‘Your business category’ drop-down menu. If you selected a category when you first set up your FreeAgent account, this will be pre-populated for you. Please note that if you update the category, this will automatically update the business category in your ‘Company Details’ settings.

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Next, choose your business location from the ‘Your Business Location’ drop-down menu.

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Your Report Preferences

If you’d like to see how your business is performing in comparison to similar businesses in the same business category and location, select ‘Yes, I’d like to also see how I compare to similar businesses’.

Please note that if you opt in, your data will be shared anonymously with similar businesses for comparison but the data will be anonymous and there will be no way to determine the details of any individual businesses.

You’ll only see a similar business comparison on your report when enough businesses with the same business category and location have also chosen to opt in.

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If you don’t want to see how your business is performing in comparison to similar businesses, select ‘No, I only want to see a comparison to my past performance’.

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You can update these settings at any time in the future.

Once you’ve entered the relevant details, select ‘View Performance Benchmarking’.

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Viewing the Performance Benchmarking report

The Performance Benchmarking report displays your operating profit for each quarter, broken down into your quarterly income and quarterly costs. If you’ve been using FreeAgent for more than one year, there will also be comparisons to your business’s performance from the previous year.

The quarter dates used to generate your report are specific to your business and directly correlate to your business’s accounting dates.

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Operating Profit

The ‘Operating Profit’ chart displays your operating profit, which is your income minus day-to-day running costs, for each quarter. Please note that your operating profit figures exclude costs for depreciation, Income Tax and Corporation Tax.

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If you would like to see individual figures for a quarter, hover over the bars on the chart to see the figure for the quarter.

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To learn more about your operating profit, you can access your Profit & Loss report by selecting ‘View profit & loss report’ in the bottom right of the ‘Operating Profit’ panel.

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Breaking down your operating profit

You can also view a breakdown of the income and costs which make up your business’s operating profit for each quarter as outlined below.

Quarterly Income

The ‘Quarterly Income’ chart displays the total income that your business has earned for each quarter.

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To learn more about the income that your business has earned, you can access your turnover in the Show Transactions report by selecting ‘View sales transactions’ at the bottom right of the ‘Quarterly Income’ panel.

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Quarterly Costs

The ‘Quarterly Costs’ chart displays the total day-to-day running costs that your business has incurred for each quarter.

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To learn more about the costs that your business has incurred, you can access your Spending Categories report by selecting ‘View spending categories report’ at the bottom right of the ‘Quarterly Costs’ panel.

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Similar business comparison

If you have chosen to opt in and anonymously share your data to see how your business’s performance compares to similar businesses, and there is enough data from similar businesses to provide a meaningful comparison, you’ll see how your operating profit, quarterly income and quarterly costs compare to those businesses. The data values of the similar businesses will appear as an orange line graph on the charts.

You’ll be able to see the comparison to similar businesses for the previous three completed quarters. Please note that the comparison value for the current quarter will not show on your report until after the end of the quarter.

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On the right-hand side of the ‘Operating Profit’ graph, you’ll see your most recently completed quarter’s profit, the profit for the same quarter last year, and the most recent profit of similar businesses for the most recent quarter.

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At the bottom of the report, you’ll see an overview of the information used to identify similar businesses. This will show your business location, business category and the number of similar businesses who have opted in to share their data.

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You can update this information by selecting the ‘settings’ link in the ‘How similar businesses are identified’ section or by following the steps below.

Updating your Performance Benchmarking report settings

To update your report settings such as your business category, location or industry comparison preferences, select ‘Settings’ in the top-right of the report.

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Make any relevant changes and select ‘Save Changes’ to update your Performance Benchmarking report settings.

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